Wehrmacht History 1935 to 1945


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1935 to 1945

U-boats 1935 to 1945 In Depth look at German U-boats, U-boat Types, U-boat Commanders, U-boat Flotillas, of World War II. career history, technical data and photos, development history.

The Third Reich had the biggest submarine fleet during World War II and was a major part of the Battle of the Atlantic. This was because of the Treaty of Versailes. which restricted the building of battleships to six (of less than 10,000 tons each) 12 destroyers and six cruisers. U-boats were very good in destroying Allied shipping, from the Atlantic coast of the United States and Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, and from the Arctic to the West and Southern African coasts, and as far East as Penang. Sir Winston Churchill the United Kingdoms Prime Minster wrote saying the only thing that really frightened me during the war was the U-boat peril. Although later evidence collected showed that 98% of British ships in the first 28 months of the war crossed without any damage. U-boats spent most of their time on the surface running on diesel engines, as speed and range was very restricted while underwater as they had to run on battery power, and only diving when under attacked or daytime torpedo strikes which was very rare. Most attacks happened at night and on the surface until allied forces developed a antisubmarine warfare tactics known as (ASW) which was very effective German U-boat commanders called this a happy time. The U-boat was a sophisticated launch platform for its main weapon was the torpedo. World War II torpedoes had many limitations and suffered from this, as they could only be launched from periscope depth or on the surface and until later in the war they were unguided going in straight lines, until it hit an object or run out of power. They were fitted with two types of fuses, which detonated the warhead on impact with a solid object and the other magnetically sensing a large metal object. When using magnetically warhead torpedoes the commander would know the targets ships draft (how low its keel sits in the water) and set the torpedoes depth so that it went just underneath, detonating the magnetic fuse. The explosion would make a temporary gas bubble underneath the unsupported keel, which would then cause a split. As a result large or heavy -armoured ships could be sank or damaged in one single hit if hit in the right place. However, in reality magnetic fuses and depth-keeping equipment were both very unreliable in the early stages of the war. Torpedoes would run at wrong depths detonate early, or bounce harmless off the targets hull. Commanders lost faith and it took sometime to put these problems right. Later on in the war. The Third Reich then designed and developed an acoustic homing torpedo which run to an arming distance of 400 meters and then zero in on the loudest noise it heard. This could sometimes be the U-boat itself, and has at least sunk two submarines of their own. U-boats also had torpedoes that had pre-set distance to run and then either a circular or ladder like pattern, so that when fired at a convoy this would increase the chances of a hit in case the torpedo missed the main target.
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